Texans typically like to do things in a big way. Consider Lamons Gasket Company.
A successful enterprise that’s growing ever larger, the Houston-based operation produces and distributes metallic and non-metallic gaskets, heat exchangers and fasteners. In fact, it’s the largest gasket and fastener supplier to the U.S. petroleum and petrochemical industry.
Its biggest manufacturing facility (located in Houston and also housing corporate headquarters) is the largest metallic gasket manufacturing plant in the world. The facility measures about 220,000 square feet. A lot of state-of-the-art capacity is contained beneath that roof.
Indeed, it’s a large roof – so large, in fact, that it’s providing an artist with an enormous canvas. Renowned painter Scott LoBaido, who specializes in painting the American flag (his work appears on buildings in all 50 states), chose the Lamons structure because it would provide him the space to create the largest-ever depiction of the U.S. banner.
“The rendering will have a 3-D effect that will make the flag appear to be rippling,” says Lamon’s Technical and Marketing Manager Kris Kolb, describing this rooftop design. “When completed, it will be quite impressive.”
Those it was meant to impress most are members of the U.S. armed forces. “LoBaido was not just looking for a large building. He wanted one close to an airport and one whose employees embodied his patriotic spirit, so that he could honor troops returning home,” explains Kolb. “We’re very close to Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport, so our location will help provide a unique tribute to soldiers flying home. They’ll see it from the sky as they prepare to land.”
Appropriately, the project began on Flag Day (June 14) and its official public “reveal” was slated for July 4, 2010. Obviously, it takes a singular individual to engage in a project of this scope. “LoBaido has never accepted any money for any of the flag projects that he has completed throughout the country,” says Kolb. “Some might call him an interesting character, but he is definitely a remarkable man and a patriot with a large heart.”
LoBaido has also become a media figure. He was featured in the recently released documentary “The Color Bearers…Stories of American Patriotism.” He has also appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” news program and he was named “Person of the Week” on ABC’s “World News Tonight with Charlie Gibson.”
Lamons was also chosen because its 350 employees share the same values. They’re very patriotic. “Many of our employees and their family members are currently serving with, or have served with, the U.S. military,” Kolb points out.
Also, the employees are collectively loyal, not just to country but to their company’s efforts to advance U.S. manufacturing. “Many have been with us for 30 years or more,” reports Kolb.
That represents a significant portion of the company’s history. It began as a distributor in the 1940s but, as it grew and developed a greater presence in its industry, it developed its own product line and manufacturing processes, relates Kolb.
Further, employees – and, obviously, the company – are extremely loyal to customers. One of the ways that Lamons gained and then maintained market leadership is through superior customer service, which covers a great deal of territory. Main customers include petroleum refining, petrochemical and other industrial users in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Far East. Lamons also serves the power generation and pulp and paper industries. “Refining and Petrochemical sales account for approximately 80 percent of our sales revenue,” adds Kolb.
In turn, Lamons garnered customer respect and loyalty by continually developing and increasing a line of premium products.
“After we transitioned from distribution to manufacturing, we mastered the craft of producing spiral-wound gaskets to industry standard and custom specifications. We now enjoy the largest market share for that product and are globally recognized as a leader in quality and design,” reports Kolb. “Later, we started making our own ring gaskets and custom machined components. About eight years ago, we developed a fastener and stud bolt line, products that complement our gasketing line very well.”
He adds: “Even though we are recognized as a gasket manufacturer, fasteners and stud bolts have grown into our largest product line.”
Currently, the company has three major production facilities: in Houston, in China (Hangzhou, Zhejiang near Shanghai) and in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, a facility that opened just last year. These locations feature leading technology capable of producing engineered products to custom specifications.
At the Houston facility, its largest operation, a spacious materials section holds a wide variety of alloys, soft materials and other raw goods. The company indicates that a large stock of sheet materials – e.g., 304 and 316 stainless steel, aluminum, Hastelloy B®, Inconel®, titanium as well as unusual metals like 317L, INC 625, INC 825, HAST X, tantalum and zirconium – helped solidify its reputation as a manufacturer that can turn out high quality gaskets from a broad range of materials with the fastest lead times in the industry.
Moving on through the plant, the large heat exchanger gasket department manufactures an array of gasket types including Kammprofiles, CMGs and metal-jacketed type gaskets. With its specialized staff and equipment, Lamons can produce these gaskets from both sheet and bar material. The bend and weld process has been successfully utilized to sizes of more than 350 inches in diameter.
The spiral wound gaskets department is the facility’s largest area, due to the high demand for this type of gasket. The spiral wound version is so popular because it’s available in various sizes, shapes and densities. Further, the combined departmental strength of machine and personnel enable the company to fabricate large volumes from a broad raw material range.
The bolt department is stocked with all common diameter bolts and fasteners, and it consists of warehousing and specialty bolt saws. The plant is equipped and ready to cut product to any required length. “We provide the largest quantity of fastener and stud bolts to the refining and petrochemical industry. Large volumes of inventory placed near our customers and the ability to deliver product locally contributes to our market leadership in this product line,” says Kolb.
A significant section of the plant is dedicated to the manufacture of ring joint gaskets and specialty machined rings. This department can produce many types of ring joints from many raw materials. In addition, the department stocks a wide range of sizes and materials ready for immediate shipment to meet ASME B16.20 and API-6A standards as well as custom fabricated iterations. Stock materials include soft iron, low carbon steel, 4-6 chrome (F5), as well as 304 and 304L, 316 and 316L, 347 and 401 Monel, Iconel and Incoloy.
As one of the world’s largest soft gasket distributors and custom gasket fabricators, Lamons has set aside a significant amount of floor space that possesses a large inventory of various sheet materials including inorganic and carbon fiber, graphite, PTFE and rubber products. The department is fully equipped with a broad range of technology such as water jets, knife machines and press stations. Here, the company produces standard- and custom-sized gaskets to meet customer requirements.
Beyond its production sites, Lamons has sales and service facilities located throughout the United States and Canada. It has also positioned licensees and distributors across the globe, strategically located to provide customers the widest selection of gasket materials ready for immediate delivery.
UNIQUE BUSINESS MODEL
This underscores one of Lamons’ most important differentiators. “We have a unique business model in that we directly interface with the end user and take an active role in assisting them with personalized local service,” describes Kolb. “The development of strong relationships with our end use customers and our close proximity allows us to work more closely with engineering, purchasing, reliability and maintenance personnel at the facility.”
This localized personal service allows the company to be a part of the problem-solving and decision-making processes as it contributes to its customers’ success.
Continues Kolb: “Our branches and local service centers have been equipped with state-of-the-art gasket and fastener fabrication equipment to be able to react quickly and efficiently to any customer demand. We understand that our customers operate continuously. The ability to deliver a quality, reputable product locally and provide professional localized service is the key to our success.”
Indeed, Lamons Gasket Company has planted its big flag throughout the world.